This week’s instalment of Labour & Pop Culture returns us to heady days of 1987, when hip-hop was beginning to penetrate mainstream American culture. “Paid in Full” by Eric B and Rakim explains the economics of crime. The song gave its name to a 2002 film about the drug trade in Harlem.
[Eric B]: Yo Rakim, what's up?
[Rakim]: Yo, I'm doing the knowledge, E., I'm trying to get paid in full
[E]: Well, check this out, since Nobry Walters is our agency, right?
[E]: Kara Lewis is our agent
[R]: Word up
[E]: Zakia/4th & Broadway is our record company
[E]: Okay, so who we rollin with?
[R]: We rollin with Rush
[E]: Of Rushtown Management. Check this out, since we talking over
This def beat that I put together, I wanna hear some of them
Def rhymes, know what I'm sayin? And together, we can get
Paid in full...
Thinkin of a master plan
'cause ain't nuthin but sweat inside my hand
So I dig into my pocket, all my money is spent
So I dig deeper but still comin up with lint
So I start my mission- leave my residence
Thinkin how could I get some dead presidents
I need money, I used to be a stick-up kid
So I think of all the devious things I did
I used to roll up, this is a hold up, ain't nuthin funny
Stop smiling, be still, don't nuthin move but the money
But now I learned to earn cos I'm righteous
I feel great! So maybe I might just
Search for a 9 to 5, if I strive
Then maybe I'll stay alive
So I walk up the street whistlin this
Feelin out of place cos, man, do I miss
A pen and a paper, a stereo, a tape of
Me and Eric B, and a nice big plate of
Fish, which is my favorite dish
But without no money it's still a wish
Cos I don't like to dream about gettin paid
So I dig into the books of the rhymes that I made
To now test to see if I got pull
Hit the studio, cos I'm paid in full
-- Bob Barnetson